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Sochu, who has a good selection?

Where I live in Brooklyn I can only find one kind at my local liquor store. I am looking for somewhere that has a good selection to browse, and if they did tastings that would be even better(but I wont hold my breath). In particular I am looking for a sochu distilled from sesame, I had one last week at Bozu in Williamsburg and was blown away. Any leads are greatly appreciated.

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  1. Did you already try Smith and Vine or the Greene Grape? There is also liquor store on the south side of Carmine Street in the Village, I think it is between Bleeker and Bedford. I seem to remember they have a good sake selection. They might be able to help you with sochu.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mr. Particular

      Sadly, the best place for a wide selection is probably Mitsuwa in NJ. Only area in the OB with a sizable Japanese population is Astoria, Grand Wines and Liquors may have some.

      1. re: lambretta76

        I think that's true, but Astor Place in Manhattan has a good selection as well.

        1. re: Steve R

          Sunrise Mart in the East Village has some, and while I don't know if the policy still stands, a friend of mine actually bought shochu from Decibel, which is a basement sake bar on East 9th with a massive selection. You may think about trying a liquor store in one of the areas in OB with a sizable Chinese population(Flushing or Southern Brooklyn). I live in Bensonhurst and the nearby Chinese supermarket had a decent selection of shochu last time I went. lambretta76 makes a good point about Mitsuwa though. There's a shuttle from Port Authority, only a few bucks each way.

    2. Now is that shochu- japanese "vodka", or Shoju- korean sweet potato....wine...I guess? Many of the Asain liquor stores in my area (Forest Hills/Rego Park) carry a decent shoju selection (love the stuff myself)...haven't seen much shochu though.....

      1. "Sochu" is the Korean transliteration and "shochu" is the Japanese transliteration. And actually, though similar, they are different drinks. "Soju", which I know less about, is a distilled blend of several different ingredients including sweet potato, wheat, and even tapioca. If you read up on soju, there's an interesting history on it as at some point, it was pure alcohol that was simply mixed with flavoring. This was due to a Korean government policy related to conservation of grain and/or rice I believe. Someone can look into that. All soju I've seen (and consumed) in NY has been branded inexpensive types like Jinro and Chamisul (which I think is a sub brand of Jinro).

        "Shochu" is the Japanese variant. It is liquor distilled from a single ingredient- though occasionally it may be flavored. Most common are shochu made from sweet potato, followed by wheat, than rice, than a few outliers like sesame, black sugar, and soba. These days, shochu is akin to whiskey or Scotch in that both large and small distilleries in Japan have taken to crafting the liquor. One point that can be confusing is that some Japanese restaurants will transliterate the word as "soju" on their menus. There is even a brand of Japanese "shochu" that uses "soju" on the bottle. I have no idea why they do this, as it doesn't align with how it is written in Japanese. Also, neither soju or shochu are "rice wines" or any type of wine. They are both spirits. Anyway...

        In W'burg, I sometimes go to Bozu to drink shochu. The sesame brand you had is called "Beniotome". It's the most common sesame one. I have not found any places in the boroughs with a decent selection of shochu. Some of the liquor stores in the W'burg / Greenpoint area carry the Iichiko brand, but that's it. The best places to buy shochu in NYC is Astor Wine & Spirits. Since their move to the new location, they've bumped up to over 40 types. You can order online as well and have it delivered. There's a minimum charge that varies depending on where you live. Warehouse Wines & Spirits on Broadway, just a block or so west of Astor Place also has a selection and slightly better prices (on all liquor and wine actually). Ambassador Wines and Landmark Wines also have small shochu selections, but the other two are better. Mitsuwa in NJ has a good selection, runs specials, and often has bottles you can not get at the Manhattan ones. Neither Sunrise or JAS Marts carry shochu. They do not have hard liquor licenses I believe.

        You can start a thread on the "Spirits" board if you want to start discussing recommendations, etc.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          Note: I meant to write "soju" not "sochu" in the first sentence.

          1. re: Silverjay

            Astor Wines & Spirts. Sometimes the best known names are so for good reason~

            1. re: HaveTasteWillTravel32

              i also echo the mitsuwa recommendation. in addition to a great selection of japanese shochu, beer and wine, there's also the great, great food court! it's very busy. the food court alone should be enticing. :-)

          2. re: Silverjay

            Shochu isn't always distilled from a single ingredient. It can be distilled from several or be a blend of single distillation types. I have over a dozen bottles right here in my office made from multiple ingredients, usually sweet potato/rice mixes but also rice barley, etc. Shochu can be made from any of 30 ingredients, although usually only 1-2 are blended in any type.

            (Now I'm getting in the shochu mood. I am giving a tasting / staff orientation at a Japanese restaurant in Maine this afternoon.)

            Shochu has taken over in Japan the last three years as the number one alcoholic beverage consumed in the country.

            To the OP:

            I also agree with the Astor and Mitsuwa recommendations.

            If is was made from sesame it was probably a Japanese shochu, not a Korean soju.

            PS. I am starting a craft distillery and plan to make the first American shochu later this year.

            1. re: JMF

              Have you started your Shochu distillery yet? I'd like to learn more about what types you plan to create. My personal favorite, as of now anyway, is Kokuto.

              1. re: 808Dave

                My own shochu is going to be a ways off. I have so many other things on the list before it. When I do make it, the first will probably be a sweet potato shochu.

                From conversations with other distillers, I probably won't be the first artisanal distillery in the US to make shochu.

          3. Thanks for all the helpful responses!!!

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